NANTA angered by ‘tout’ comment by US Embassy staff

The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has condemned the blanket stigmatization of the travel trade organization as touts by a staff of the United States Embassy and some other High Commissions in Nigeria.

 A video clip that had gone viral of a recorded television broadcast that captured an American Consular Officer describing Nigerian travel trade professionals as touts who must not be consulted on visa protocols, has drawn the ire of the agency.

The association’s leadership described the comment as very sad and one that is capable of destroying the reputation of NANTA.

President of NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye said NANTA would take up the issues with its regulatory agency, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

She also called for caution especially with the kind of comments made by the American Embassy staff as such comments could negatively destroy the fabric of the private-sector organization, adding that NANTA was disturbed by the insensitivity of the said American Embassy official who neither reached out to NANTA nor the regulatory body of the travel trade in Nigeria to officially complain or report the supposed infraction before going public.

NANTA President, Susan Akporiaye

She further called on the Federal Government to intervene and request the Embassy to withdraw its blanket negative comment against the Nigerian aviation downstream operators, noting that no foreign embassy in America would go public in the United States to describe American businesses as frauds and asking the public not to patronize them.

“We are not in any way protecting any operator who runs afoul of the law but we say, even at that, there are channels to fish out and fix such deviants and for the Embassy consulate officer to wave off Nigerian travel trade professionals without going through established channels is totally unacceptable”.

Akporiaye disclosed that NANTA members as travel agents, consultants, and facilitators, do not trade visas but can guide and advise intending visa applicants on how to complete their forms and guide them through some technical requirements needed to apply for visas.

“This does not however confer on us the right to assure clients of getting approvals for their visas or an express intent of being custodians of visas. We are like other professionals who are competent to help visa seekers on the right thing to do”.

Wole Shadare